On 12th July 1691 the Battle of Aughrim commenced and was one of the decisive battles of the Williamite War in Ireland. It effectively ended Jacobitisim in Ireland, leaving subsequent Jacobite Risings to be fought just in England and Scotland.
The Williamite War ran from 1689 to 1691 and was fought over who would be king of England, Scotland and Ireland. Jacobites supported King James VII & II who had been removed from the throne, whilst Williamites fought unsurprisingly for King William.
In 1689 William landed a party of English, Scottish, Dutch, Danish and other troops in a bid to tackle the growing Jacobite resistance. The well known Battle of the Boyne was fought in 1690 which saw a Williamite victory and left the Jacobites demoralised. William took Dublin while the Jacobites retreated to Limerick. After the battle some believed that the war was over but William’s apparently over-harsh peace terms encouraged the Jacobite army to keep fighting.
Finally, in July 1691, events came to a head with the Jacobite army holding a defensive position around Limerick. They were waiting for aid from France to help them re-take Ireland which the Williamites were determined to stop. As the Williamites began their march to Limerick they found their way blocked at Aughrim. Here both armies, roughly 20,000 strong a piece, lined up for battle.
The Jacobites held a strong position with infantry lining the ridge of Kilcommadon Hill and stone walls and hedgerows marking local farmers fields helping provide defences for their men. In addition to this to the left of the army was a bog with only one causeway limiting any access to their left flank. These defences helped the Jacobites hold off numerous advances by the Williamite men. They pushed the assault back and drove the Williamites into the bog where many were killed or drowned.
Eventually the Williamites decided their only option was to try and flank the Jacobites along the narrow causeway through the bog. The worry was this was a bottleneck and the Jacobites would protect it fiercely. Luckily for the Williamites the Jacobites were running low on ammunition and their reserve ammunition would not fit in their French supplied muskets. The Williamites managed to breach the causeway and held a perfect flanking position.
Meanwhile the Jacobite commander, Marquis de Saint-Ruhe, was still confident the battle could be won. However, as he tried to rally the cavalry he was struck by a cannonball which decapitated him. Without his leadership the Jacobite position very quickly collapsed. The cavalry fled leaving the Jacobite flank wide open as the Williamites surrounded them. Those who tried to flee were killed as they ran, chased down by the Williamite cavalry.
The battle of Aughrim was one of the more bloody battles in Ireland with an estimated 5-7,000 men killed and became referred to by some as ‘the Flodden of Ireland’. Many of those killed were Jacobites with some claiming as many as 4,000 men were killed with a further 4,000 taken prisoner after the battle. Not only this but the Jacobites lost much of their equipment and supplies as the Williamites ransacked their camp. Although the city of Limerick held out until the autumn of 1691 the battle of Aughrim is considered by many the final act in the end of Irish Jacobitism.
We hope you enjoyed this little insight into the Battle of Aughrim and the Jacobite rising in Ireland. As always please share, comment, like, re-blog and keep coming back to learn more about Jacobite history.
All the best, K & D